Monday, March 31, 2014

Dog Days of Winter

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” -Matt. 11:28 I know, I know…the phrase “dog days” refers to the sultry days of summer, not the cold days of winter. In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are most commonly experienced in the months of July and August. In the Southern Hemisphere, in January and February. They are hot and humid and sticky. The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius, the “Dog Star". It is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). The Romans also sacrificed a red dog in April to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather. Poor dogs. Dog Days of summer were popularly believed to be an evil time "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies." according to Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813. Most of us in the United States have been experiencing the bitter cold called winter. I consider myself a positive, half-full person, but my cup has been empty this winter. Cold after cold and snow after snow has worn out the most ardent of winterized Americans. As we endured yet another cold front coming through the Ozarks, I glanced out in the front yard and, to my surprise, our young lab, Maisy, was sound asleep in the front yard. The weather was freezing and the light snow fresh, but our Maisy was totally out- snoozing in the winter air. She was content. She was happy. She was ASLEEP. But how? I don’t doubt that Seasonal Affective Disorder is legit. When less endorphins are secreted and the level of sunshine is decreased, our mood can become melancholy. It’s difficult to be positive and optimistic when the weather is cold and snowy. But I wonder if it’s mostly a matter of chemical levels or making the choice to be happy? Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are about as happy as they choose to be.” In their great book “Happiness is a Choice,” Minirth and Meier addressed this supposition. “We couldn’t agree with them more. Lincoln should know. He went through much anguish in his life- the death of his fiancée, lost elections, the Civil War, and other major disappointments. At one point in his life he was so depressed he considered suicide. But Lincoln chose to overcome his depression. He chose to be happy and obtained inner joy and peace in those last years before he fell victim to the bullet of a hostile fellow man.” So, how do we make the choice to be content? How can a lab be perfectly fine sleeping in freezing weather? It’s tough being OK when the circumstances are less than desirable. But I think Maisy knew something most of us struggle to grasp. “Leaving well enough alone” means we play with the “cards dealt to us.”Maisy’s logic: “I can’t change the weather, I’ve got food in my bowl, the sun is out, and I’m tired, so it’s nap time! I choose to chill.” Making the choice doesn’t mean we deny the difficulty in our lives, but it does mean we choose to work past the issues that keep us down. It means we go to Jesus and choose to live in the rest He provides. May we all choose peace in the midst of the pandemonium. May we all choose rest in the midst of the restlessness… …and may we all choose to snooze in the snow. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

No comments: